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Should kids contribute to family income?

You can't ask your kids to contribute to the family budget without making some sacrifices yourself.

By MSN Money Partner May 29, 2012 9:01AM

This post comes from Miranda Marquit at partner blog Bargaineering.

 

Image: Father and son (© Bill Cannon/Photodisc Red/Getty Images)For many families, the recession still hasn't ended. While technically the Great Recession has been over for about three years, practically speaking, many families are still feeling the pinch. As a result, some are getting creative about side businesses they are ready to start, as well as how they bring money into the family.

 

In some cases, this might include encouraging children to get summer jobs and help contribute to the family finances. Indeed, parents can ask kids to contribute to family finances in a variety of ways.

 

Put kids to work at the family business

A business owner could ask the kids to help clean up, serve customers or do some of the filing. This can cut expenses of a family business, while giving kids good work experience. While many parents would like to pay their kids for this kind of work, when money is tight, that might not be an option. (Post continues below.)

Cut the allowance

Whether you give your children an allowance or pay your kids for chores, you might need that money for groceries instead of being used by your kids to buy a new video game. If you are in financial straits, paying an allowance or paying for chores, might no longer be an option if you want to maintain some level of financial responsibility.

 

Appropriate money from outside jobs

Some families make the difficult decision to appropriate money from their children's outside jobs. If your teenager has an after-school job, the money made can be a valuable addition to the family. When that is the case, you might feel justified asking for a portion of the baby-sitting money or the lawn care money. Kids can be amendable to this idea -- as long as it's clear that the money is needed for the good of the family.

 

Help your child understand your decision

If you do decide that your children need to contribute to the family finances, it's important that you be honest and upfront about the situation. Explain that you are going through a difficult time, and that you would appreciate it if the child could help by taking a pay cut in allowance, by working at the family business for a few hours a week or by contributing after-school earnings to the food budget.

 

Realize, though, that you can't ask your child to make such sacrifices without making some yourself. Show your child that you are sacrificing by forgoing some of your favorite activities or by selling some of your stuff. If you are still having "date nights" while your kids are stuck at home, they will become resentful.

You should also make it a point to talk about how everyone is helping, and thank your child for being an important part of the effort. When kids feel that they are making a real difference, they are more likely to want to help.

 

What do you think? Should kids have to help maintain financial stability of a family?

 

More on Bargaineering and MSN Money:

19Comments
May 29, 2012 10:31PM
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You've got to be kidding me. If parents let themselves even get to the point of considering asking their child for money just to cover groceries/bills and they are still having a date night they ought to turn in their responsibility badges.
May 29, 2012 10:48PM
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I would never stoop so low as to make my CHILD hand over their paycheck. I am the parent and they are the child. I will have the same rule my mom had in regards to allowance....it terminates at age 16 when they can get their own job. If you cannot afford your own children then suck it up and apply for welfare or help but, you do NOT take their paycheck that they earned.

In regards to the spoiled kid argument...if you raise your kids correctly you will not have spoiled brats that think they are entitled to everything.  You can teach your child to help out and contribute to the household without stealing their pay. If any parent is going to give their kid a guilt trip about handing over their paychecks they are wrong! (and if one was made to then to be fair all of them should have if they were going to take their checks.) OR not have more kids than you can afford.
May 29, 2012 10:27PM
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My family had a restaurant when I was a kid in the mid-80's and 90's. My sister and I were expected to help out whenever it was needed. My dad was the cook, my mom the waitress. We filled in wherever we were most needed-waiting tables, cleaning up tables, taking food to customers, helping in the kitchen, doing dishes. I started helping when I was 9 years old and helped til I was grown. I never got paid (dad said I got a roof over my head). And when I got my own job at other places, I was still expected to help at the family restaurant when I was not working or doing school stuff. I know I was needed, but you do get a little bitter about it, especially when my little brother did nothing at all. I did develop a strong work ethic, but wish I had more of my childhood! I think kids today are too lazy, and expect everything handed to them, I worked hard for everything I got!
May 29, 2012 3:05PM
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When I was in high school, as the oldest of eight kids, almost all of my income from my part time job at Burger King went to the family.  It was just expected and was necessary.  The bad part was that as we kids grew older and the others started working, they didn't contribute.  It caused a lot of hard feelings and fights.  I had a major guilt trip laid on me to help support the family; I started earning at 9 years old by making potholders on a loom that I got for Christmas, and selling them door to door.  I babysat, did yardwork, shoveled snow, and cleaned houses to help the family before age 16, when I could legally work. It won't jurt kids nowadays to contribute.  It will be good for them.
Jun 4, 2012 4:58PM
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I completely agree with having children help out when it is necessary.  About 14 yeas ago I was a divorced, unemployed, single mom of two sons. Unemployment and child support barely paid the rent, insurance and utilities - there wasn't much left over for food or other necessities.

 

My sons at 14 and 16 would mow lawns and do other handy man jobs and give me most of the money they earned so that I could buy groceries for our table.  Thankfully, we only were in the situation for a few months.  To this day, I still let my sons know how much I appreciated their help.

 

I feel there are better men because of the hardships we went through.  My oldest son is married and business owner and he's doing very well. My younger son is a disabled Iraq war vet that cannot work but has managed his disability pay so that 18 months ago he bought his own house and is now looking for someone to share it with him and start a family.

 

If you talk to your children and let them know what is going on they will appreciate the knowledge and help if they can. They are NOT stuipid.  They will help!!!  For most people I think you will find these situations are not long term.

May 29, 2012 1:37PM
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I love this idea. I suspect many might be uneasy at the thought asking their children to contribute to the family, but you handled objections superbly by realistically asking the parents to sacrifice financially themselves. Although it seems that making kids contribute toward the family budget could fracture relationships, it could actually make fractured relationships grow closer by having both parties realize sacrifices for the common interest of the family as a unit. Thank you for handling this idea carefully and addressing the communication needed in the family as well.

I think that as some parents contemplate this decision that is radical to some, they will actually realize they can sacrifice much more themselves from their lifestyle to have a responsible budget. If both parents and children need to sacrifice for the sake of responsible finances, it will only strengthen the family in the long run.


May 30, 2012 5:20AM
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 no ... leave your kids money alone and get another job.
May 30, 2012 9:11AM
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this has got to be a kroch brothers wet dream.getting children back into american sweat shops.isnt this a great big step backwards.
May 29, 2012 11:12PM
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When my older kids started to move back home I asked them to pay enough  to cover one bill if they were working.  My youngest is graduating High School this year and she pays for her share of the phone bill and she wants to help with more when she starts working more hours.
Jun 4, 2012 10:37AM
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Yes....that would be acceptable.

 

After the chores...they can contribute %10 of earnings.

 

A great way to teach them financial responsibility....We must get them out of the mind set that they have entitlements.....remember they will be in charge of our cities, states & federal government very soon.

Jun 1, 2012 8:38PM
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first of all no one is advocating TAKING anything. The article is about your child contributing to the greater good and welfare of the family. However they can, by chores, watching the younger one while the parent work a little longer instead of playing video games with friends, mowing the yard instead of having to pay someone, etc. Contribution is not only about MONEY.

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Had you asked me 15 years or so ago i'd said no (i'd have been a kid) but after seeing what a load of worthless lazy balls of snot Americans are raising then yes it should be encourage to make them work for what they want. I actually did chores in trade for my comic book collecting and when i got a part time job i had to pay for gas, insurance, phone and other such things.
May 29, 2012 6:38PM
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I think kids need to learn that they are a part of the family unit and as such should be responsible for helping their family by contributing work and/or money. Too many think they deserve EVERYTHING and then some. That said, I think it is funny that everyone thinks this is a good idea when if the story was about children in a Third World country helping to support the family, I'll bet plenty would be upset about child labor. I know, you will say, but those kids work instead of being able to go to school. I am sure that working AND going to school makes for a very long day too. Not trying to be contentious; I just think it is ironic and something to think about.
Jun 27, 2012 12:29PM
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When my parents started stealing my paychecks, I stopped working.
Jun 27, 2012 8:33AM
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Aw, who needs High School, put the kids to work after the 8th grade just like we used to.

Thank goodness we have the Koch Brothers to take care of us to create jobs with livable wages.

Thank goodness we have ALEC pushing anti work regulation laws on all our Koch bought and paid for politicians, too.

 

Long live the newest Corporate Citizens (Citizens United, just upheld, again, by the highest court of the land), who have taken care of us so well these last 40 years...

May 29, 2012 10:28PM
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I think it should ALWAYS have been this way. Americans have gotten the idea of "making a better life for our children" twisted and now we have a generation of spoiled lazy numnuts who expect things instead of knowing how to WORK for it and understand what teamwork and effort feels like. Back in the day kids always contributed because when you are A PART of something that is what you do. like on a farm. some families still operate that way. That is how I was raised. and any kid of mine, nieces, nephews they come to my house they will be put to work and helpif necessary. lol.

 

I believe that is the way it is SUPPOSED to be. otherwise you raise selfish, self centered children. Are those kids likely to turn around and help the parents when they are older.????   

 

My youngest brother ,last of four, did not have to "earn his keep" and he is struggling; to grow up/mature and get his act together. I know it becuase he was spoiled. he was let off the hook one too many times with his responsibilites. My mother has finally been able to admit that.

May 29, 2012 10:27PM
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I think it should ALWAYS have been this way. Americans have gotten the idea of "making a better life for our children" twisted and now we have a generation of spoiled lazy numnuts who expect things instead of knowing how to WORK for it and understand what teamwork and effort feels like. Back in the day kids always contributed because when you are A PART of something that is what you do. like on a farm. some families still operate that way. That is how I was raised. and any kid of mine, nieces, nephews they come to my house they will be put to work and helpif necessary. lol.

 

I believe that is the way it is SUPPOSED to be. otherwise you raise selfish, self centered children. Are those kids likely to turn around and help the parents when they are older.????   

 

My youngest brother ,last of four, did not have to "earn his keep" and he is struggling; to grow up/mature and get his act together. I know it becuase he was spoiled. he was let off the hook one too many times with his responsibilites. My mother has finally been able to admit that.

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